Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AZ Proposition 105 - Does it take away our vote?

Proposition 105 is very controversial.  On the face, it looks to take away the power of the voter initiative by forcing 50% + 1 to pass any initiative that has spending provisions.  We all know that just getting 50% voter turnout is pretty good (some elections have less than 11%) so isn't requiring 50% + 1 the same as taking away the voters' right to approve an initiative?

I've gone over it quite a few times in my head.  At first it was obviously bad.  After all, it virtually insures that no voter initiatives pass.  However, as I found out more about it, I found that it only applies to initiatives that raise taxes (like a cigarette tax, property tax, etc.).  OK, so it's not as bad as I thought but still very limiting for any initiative that costs money.  So I talked to my legislators about it.  The result was very interesting.

As everybody knows, we're in a bit of a bind on the budget.  However, billions of dollars of that budget can't be touched because it's voter initiative money.  So, no matter how useless, inefficient, or backward the program is, it can't be cut.  Everybody complains that they always cut education but that's one of the few areas where their hands aren't tied (or at least aren't as tied).  There's something to think about.

In addition, somehow we accept that Congress must have a two thirds marjority to raise taxes but the voters can do it with a 6% turn out (if only 11% turned out for an election, 6% of the voters could raise our taxes - it's kind of scary).  It's like a special interest dreamland!

So, in the end, I support it.  I feel strongly that anything raising taxes should have serious barriers.  That's why it takes a super-majority in the legislature.  Shouldn't we also have barriers to ourselves?  I heard an old saying once that said that a democracy can only last until the people realize they can vote themselves money.  Are we getting to that point?

Let's make it hard to create programs that our children will be required to support.  Let's be wise with our money and our power.  Let's support proposition 105.

NOTE:  More information can be found at ballotpedia.

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